PROVISION FOR THE CHURCH’S LACK

Nobleton Community Church
April 21, 2024
TEXT: I Thessalonians 3:1-13
Pastor Paul V Lehmann

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Paul felt a great responsibility for his converts which he compares to that of a father for his children. That involves encouraging, comforting and urging them to live lives worthy of God, who calls us into his kingdom and glory. Until Christ be perfectly formed in them. (Galatian’s 4:19-where Paul likens the pain of childbirth to how he feels about them until they completely follow the Lord. That’s why he was committed and really wanted to make a second visit to the Thessalonians. His purpose was to see their faith perfected, so they could persevere no matter what Satan threw at them. This would be a crown of rejoicing when the Lord comes back. He knew that justification before God (that is: being made righteous because of the forgiveness, and victory over death that Christ accomplished on the cross); was only a means to holiness and not an end in itself. He expected Christians to go deeper, in the things of experiencing the holiness of God, the love of God, and the power of God in their lives. In this purpose Paul was frustrated by Satan. It was in the form of persecution by his fellow-countrymen. Because Paul couldn’t return to Thessalonica, (2:8) he sent Timothy as his representative to establish them and comfort them. According to Acts 17:10 Paul left Thessalonica and went to Berea. When trouble broke out there, some Christians took Paul to Athens. It was quite a praise report of good news when he came back to tell Paul of their progress in the faith. (Verse 6).
Paul’s desire and passion was to see the church at Thessalonica, immovable by temptation, trials, error or persecution.
Some people feel that if you experience troubles and trials are always caused by sin or a lack of faith. But trials may be a part of God’s plan for believers. Experiencing problems and persecutions can build character. (James 1:2-4). Problems are unavoidable for God’s people. Your problems may be a sign of effective Christian living. Some people turn to God with the hope of escaping their suffering and problems. But God doesn’t promise that, instead he gives us power to grow through our sufferings.
He knew that their faith had to be completed by teaching. Conversion is instantaneous but maturity in Christian experience takes growth. For this purpose the teaching ministry is essential. Paul prayed that the Father would direct his way to do this and lead them to greater love for the Lord and his holiness.
His objective was intensified by his uninterrupted intercession for them
THE EXPERIENCE OF PERFECTION OF FAITH
Paul prayed that they would move on from the elementary teachings about faith as we read in Heb. 6:1-2, and move on and experience the foundation truths about Christ and not be stuck —so to speak—in the main truth about salvation. God is holy and he wants his people to be holy. When we are filled with the Spirit, we experience the full salvation that we read about in the Gospel of John where Jesus tells us that he has come that we might have LIFE in all its fullness. (“Abundantly”)
After conversion it is inevitable that sin will reinsert itself in the believer’s life in many forms. This is hurtful to our faith, and disillusioning to our assurance. If Christian teachers leave converts in this condition it is no wonder that they backslide. It is important that we impart to them the knowledge of their position in Christ. That is to show:
THE EXHIBITION OF PERFECTION OF FAITH
Paul prayed that they would increase and abound in love toward one another. The one Biblical standard for the Christian life is LOVE. In the Old Testament they were under LAW, and it was negative, whereas LOVE IS POSITIVE. Love brings about honesty, integrity, purity, charity and loyalty.
The kind of love which we have when Christ is in our life delivers us from every kind of fear. Perfect love in Christ casts out FEAR. (I John 4:18) It delivers us from fear of judgement by God. We can experience the LOVE of God, which when we receive His son Jesus into our hearts and lives, it is his love that others see in us. When others see a lack of love in our hearts it shows a need for perfecting our FAITH. When we fail to love God and others like we should, God has more for us by way of Christian experience.
What is—THE END OF PERFECTION OF FAITH ?
HOLINESS IS THE END PURPOSED BY THE PERFECTION OF FAITH.
It is imparted by the Holy Spirit. Prayer is the main contribution toward the achievement of a state of holiness. I want to make one thing clear. This isn’t something that makes you religious. When people say that so in so is religious, they probably mean they are either a committed Christian, or not a Christian. Religion is something that man strives for. That’s what the Pharisees that Jesus faced all the time. They were religious, and counted on what the Law stated, but of course Jesus pointed out how they were miss interpreting so many things. Religion is man trying to reach out and satisfy God or gods. What our Heavenly Father offers is a Relationship because of what Jesus Christ his son did for us on the cross. When we receive him into our lives, as put our trust in him as our only Savior, his Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, and as we submit and yield to His control, he sanctifies us our sets us apart to serve him and He is the only one who can make us holy.
Sometimes people want to make the gospel more attractive. They encourage people to give their lives to Christ, and they will find the peace and joy they are searching for. That part is true, but we must never make any kind of promises that God will keep you from going through trials or that we won’t have any problems. It is more likely that our lives will get harder. Our family might turn against us, we might lose our job, and People will put expectations on us that things should change for the better. If a family member is living in sin, and are caught up in all kinds of trouble, there will still be consequences for sin. What Jesus will do is give you the will, the wisdom, the strength and the power to walk through anything Satan throws at you. We just need to allow the Holy Spirit who lives in us to be involved with our everyday life. Not just when there is a crisis. I read about three young men who completed a yachting expedition up the west coast of Scotland. They commented that when you are at home you may never listen to or look up the weather forecast. At least that used to be the case. Now you just look it up on your phone. I do it almost every day. Anyway, he said when we were on that yacht we listened to the weather forecast every day —we were all ears. It was quite possible to do without knowing the weather when we were at home where life was comfortably safe; it was essential though when our lives might depend on knowing the weather. We are apt to try the same thing with God. In ordinary things we disregard Him, thinking we can manage okay by ourselves, but in an emergency we call out to him, knowing we can’t make it by ourselves.
It is to God that Paul always turned to for guidance and direction. We use God to try to achieve a God-rescued life; Paul had a close relationship with God to achieve a God-directed life.

DETRACTORS OF THE CHURCH

Nobleton Community Church
April 14, 2024
Text: I Thessalonians 2: 1-16
Pastor Paul V Lehmann

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Last week we talked about how Paul became a “game changer” by preaching the gospel to this church in Thessalonica. This church had quite a testimony. Some churches have a testimony of being a “Missions giving” church, Others have the testimony of being an “Outreach church.” Nobleton Community Church had the testimony of being a “Friendly Church.” That is still true, but I hope we are also getting the reputation and having a testimony of being a church that preaches the gospel.

When Timothy returned from Thessalonica to Corinth and reported to Paul, he told him of the attacks which the Jews were making on his ministry and his person. These Jews had opposed him when he was there, out of envy. They said he was deluded and crazy. Also he was impure and that he was a deceiver (verse 3 ) The NIV says that he was accused of tricking them. This meant that he was lumped in with the magicians, charlatans, and the “quacks” of the day; that he practiced immorality as the heathen priests did in Corinth in connection with the polytheistic religions who sought to make a profit from his deluded followers. Paul defended himself by calling to the memory of the Thessalonians, what his ministry was really like when he was with them.

HE REMINDS THEM ABOUT HIS MANNER OF LIFE AMONG THEM

Paul said in verse1; “you know that our ministry among you was not without results. Then in verses 2-5, he reminds them about his suffering in Philippi, and before God he tells them that with the help of God, he endured all of that and that his life was not impure. He also reminded them of his affection and love for them, —that it was like a mother’s love for her children. He reminded them of how he worked outside of the ministry (as a tent-maker), because he didn’t want to be a burden to them financially. All this was to counteract what they were hearing about him.

THEN HE DECLARES THAT HIS MESSAGE WAS:

FROM GOD NOT MAN.

His message was the Gospel—the Good News. Verse 4 says that it was committed to him by God. The very content of the message was an attestation of his character because someone who preaches this kind of message can’t be a deceiver and we are not doing it to please people, but God, who tests our hearts. Being saved, he had a responsibility to carry the message -the Good News to others. The problem with too many Christians today is that they consider their salvation,– when they received Jesus into their hearts, to be only a “fire escape from hell.” They want to go to heaven, but the idea that they have a responsibility to testify to the fact that they have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation doesn’t always seem to be their understanding of what the Lord requires of them.

He goes on to say that God searches our hearts when we cry out to him, and he tests us to see if there is any wicked way in us. What Paul went through every time he planted a church, was so severe that he couldn’t possibly do it unless the Lord gave him the strength. No matter what Satan his enemy, (working through the Jews and pagan Gentiles), threw at him, he had the wisdom, strength and supernatural power by the Holy Spirit to support it. The opposition was great by so many, but in spite of this he was successful, and that’s why he commended the Thessalonians so much. They responded to the gospel, in spite of what others were saying about him.

Any time the Lord calls us into ministry, and he calls each of us in different ways, he also gives us the strength to do what he calls us to do. Paul never changed his message or flattered or “buttered up” people in order to make his message more acceptable. What he did do was adopt the message to the people he was trying to reach. May the Lord help us to do this too. Cross-cultural missionaries must do this all the time. When the teaching is based on the Word of God, and on Jesus Himself people will respond. This was true of the people in the Ngeba region where Tata Mbanda and I planted a church. A village about 3 or 4 miles away had received a Catholic priest to come into their village to teach them. He complained that they didn’t give him a young girl to be with him at night. The Village chief ordered him out of the village. He said to him; “you get out of here and never come back. We want someone to teach us what the Bible says, not to corrupt our young women.” When we evangelized this village. After we showed the Jesus film in Kikongo, almost the whole village turned to Christ. We provided them with Bibles and Mbanda went back every week to teach them. After a month or so, We told them to pick a couple of elders to lead them. When we returned, we met with the whole village, probably over 100 adults. We sat at a table with kerosene lanterns. We read to them the requirements for someone who is an elder or overseer in I Timothy 3. Then one of the men said; “we need to meet together again. The men we had chosen, did not meet the Biblical requirements. They came back a while later and presented to us two different men than they had first chosen. They were led by the Word, and the Holy Spirit to put the priest out of the village, and to welcome us because we taught them the Word. They believed what they saw in the scripture.

When we reach out to people we should never just give them what they might want to hear. We must be honest with them, and only share the Word. Sometimes we might be tempted to share things that would make a good impression. Paul says that we didn’t come to them with flattering words, but he was open with them and the Holy Spirit used his word so that they would respond. They didn’t respond to Paul, but to the truth about Jesus Christ. It was the Holy Spirit that changed them so that they turned from idols to serve the true and living Savior Jesus Christ.

Our objective should be always to please God and not people. Faith that God will vindicate a righteous and consistent life is the motivating power of all service and sacrifice.

So Paul could leave his detractors to the sovereign disposal of God. The Jews tried to keep him from sharing the Good News, but it didn’t work. The pagans tried to keep the Thessalonians from responding. It didn’t work. They were just as bad as the Jews who tried to keep their fellow Jews from following Jesus. God has promised: “Vengeance is mine, the Lord says, I will repay.” And He has admonished men; “Touch not those I have anointed.” We may therefore accept an example of Paul and “heap coals of fire on our enemies head.” We read in Proverbs 25:21; “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, if he is thirsty give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Now perhaps you have wondered how serving your enemy in this way, could possibly “heap coals of fire on his head. In the East, this is not a way to show revenge, but the expression refers to the custom of one household that has a flint and thus a way of starting a cooking fire. Early in the morning the mother lights coals and places them on a piece of broken pottery and puts them on the head of a young boy, and he begins to go from house to house delivering some coals of fire so the neighbors will be able to prepare breakfast. This is actually a pleasant task for the boy on a cold morning. The coals keeps him warm.

Heaping burning coals on someone’s head isn’t a way of revenge, but it is an extension of the admonishment to “Bless them who curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you.” —If you heap coals of fire on your enemy’s head, you are doing so– on his mind and heart, and you may persuade him to put away his evil ways.

No matter how many detractors the enemy of our souls, Satan raises up to stop the spreading of the gospel in a given area, whether it is planting a new church, or trying to stop an established church from growing. He will not succeed; anymore than what happened by the ministry of Paul in Thessalonica. There were plenty of detractors there—-those who stirred up trouble for Paul, that no one would respond to the gospel, but the Holy Spirit had another agenda. God’s name was glorified when so many turned to Jesus Christ.

Don’t allow anyone or anything to detract you form fulfilling what God has asked you to do. He won’t ask you to do anything without giving you the wisdom, the gifts, and the power to accomplish what he has called you to do.

GOOD NEWS FROM A GRAVEYARD

Nobleton Community Church
March 31, 2024 Sunrise Service
Text: Matthew 28:6-7
Pastor Paul V Lehmann

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The message of Christianity is good news from a cemetery. Graveyards have always been melancholy places because they are associated with grief, sadness and separation from our loved ones. The cemetery is the last place from which one would expect to receive good news.

When Jeannene and I were missionaries in Paris, France, her great niece Amber, came to visit us. She was a fan of “The Doors” a secular group whose lead singer Jim Morrison had died of an “overdose” of heroin in 1971. He had gone to Paris while awaiting an appeal to indecent exposure while performing in Miami. He was living in a 4th floor apartment with his girlfriend, in the arondisement of Maurais in Paris. There are many theories about how he died, but he is buried in the Poet’s section of the Pere Lachaise Cemetery on the east side of Paris. Amber asked if we knew where Jim Morrison was buried. We had never heard of him, and at the time of his death, we were in The Congo. I did some research and found out where he was buried and we took her there to see the grave, where a remarkable simple tomb marks his grave but it is one of the most popular. . This was the largest (110 acres) and old cemetery with huge tombstones and mausoleums. Oscar Wild the most famous buried there, had gone to Paris, ironically enough because he was arrested for indecency in England.

The day we went to the grave, there was a couple sitting in front of the slab which was all that was there. Every time they put up a marker including a bust of Morrison, it was stolen so they have now put an iron railing around it. While there we saw a couple smoking pot while lamenting Morrison’s untimely death.

From the beginning of time, man has raised the question which was articulated by Job. “If a man dies, shall he lie again?” (Job 14:14). Century after century the shall and the great, the wise and the foolish, the rich and the poor, the young and the old marched into the silent, clammy chambers of death. People stood in fear of death and the grave.

It remained for Jesus Christ, the God-Man, to come with an authentic answer to Job’s painful perplexing question.

THE BASIC TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY, AND THE CENTRAL CORE OF THE GOSPEL IS THE RESURECTION OF CHRIST.

The angelic announcement ; “He is not here, for he is risen, just as he said. Come see the place where the Lord laid. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that HE IS RISEN FROM THE DEAD.:(Matthew 28:6-7) This is the basic truth of the gospel. This Easter message is not an argument—it is a proclamation. The angels declared this Jesus Christ had conquered death and had risen to life. The apostles experienced the living presence to the extent that they died martyr’s deaths rather than surrender or renounce their faith and deny their relationship to Him. The Scriptures record at least eleven appearances of the living Christ to the disciples. The empty tomb “spoke with a shout” to declare that he was no longer dead. (Acts 2:24 and II Tim. 1:10). The present day strength of Christianity is a dramatic testimony to the presence of the living Christ who has walked through the corridors of time. So let’s consider: TWO DECLARATIONS FOUND IN THE GOOD NEWS OF THE RESURRECTION. FIRST—-

I. THE DECLARATION OF THE EMPTY TOMB

During the last six months of our Lord’s earthly ministry, he taught his disciples concerning the necessity and nature of his death on the cross. He taught them in parables in John 2:19 and John 12:24 and he spoke directly in John 10:17-18, and Matthew 16:21 and 17:22-23. They found these teaching impossible to understand and they tried to prevent Christ from going to the cross. You remember perhaps how Peter told him—oh no Lord, you will never have to do that, and Jesus recognizing that the enemy of our souls was prompting him to say that; responded with “get behind me Satan. The shameful and horrible death on the cross was, for them, a great personal tragedy. He was their dearest friend. Thay had placed their complete confidence in him, and placed on him the future of their nation. His death, for them, was a great political tragedy because they expected him to be a nationalistic Messiah who would deliver Israel from the domineering power of Rome. His death on the cross, for them, was a public disgrace. There was no more shameful manner in which a man could die. Jesus was condemned as a common criminal and sentenced to death by crucifixion. This was a fate so terrible that Roman law forbade the crucifixion of a Roman citizen even for the most serious and outrageous crime.

It wasn’t until the mysterious miracle of the first Easter morning that they began to understand what the Savior had been trying to communicate to their minds and hearts.

1.) THE EMPTY TOMB DECLARED TO THEIR MINDS AND HEARTS THAT JESUS CHRIST WAS REALLY THE DIVINE SON OF GOD. — AND IROMANS 1:4 says: “…AND WHO THROUGH THE SPIRIT OF HOLINESS WAS APPOINTED THE SON OF GOD IN POWER BY HIS RESURRECTION FROM THE DEAD….

Jesus Christ of Nazareth had worked in a carpenter shop. He had walked about Galilee. He became hungry like other men. He experienced weariness and exhaustion. He knew loneliness and sorrow. He was human like us, but he also was God. However, he operated in the power of the Holy Spirit like we are able to do if we have given ourselves over to him and his power. He gave sight to the blind; He made the deaf to hear; He made the lame to walk; He brought the dead back to life. He commanded the winds to cease their blowing and they obeyed. He ordered the waves of the sea to be calm and without hesitation they carried out his orders.

On several occasions he declared himself to be the Son of God, and he had the audacity to forgive sin. He claimed to have the power to lay down his life and also to take it again. This was the boldest of his claims. It was this, the fulfillment of this claim, that authenticated the truth of all his teachings and declared him once and for all to be the God-man. He was the eternal God with a human body.

2.) THE EMPTY TOMB DECLARES THAT HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS MADE ATONEMENT FOR OUR SINS (Romans 4:25) –… ”He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”

Some may ask the question; “How can we know that the death of Jesus Christ, took care of the sin that separates us from God.

The resurrection is the answer.! I Corinthians says in 15: verses 16-19 that if Christ had not been raised from the dead, then we only have hope in this life (nothing beyond the grave), and we are to be pitied for believing this. But verse 20 says; “ But Christ had indeed ben raised from the dead …For since death came through a man, the resurrection from the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”

When Jesus was baptized, a voice came out of heaven, saying; “This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. 3:17). On the mountain of Transfiguration there was also an expression of divine approval.

( Matt. 17:5) The final approval was the resurrection. Jesus was our substitute for what we as sinners deserved.—death- His death met God’s requirement for our sins, in order to meet God’s justice, who will bring every sin into judgement. It can happen for us now, if we except God’s provision through Jesus Christ, if we accept him as our personal Savior, or we will one day be judged after our death, when it will be too late to escape eternal punishment in hell.

3.) THE EMPTY TOMB WAS FOR THE APOSTLES, AND FOR US, A PROMISE OF VICTORY OVER DEATH AND THE GRAVE.

Jesus had said to Martha before his death on the cross; “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believes in me, though he were dead, shall live. And whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. ( John 11;25-26) He also said; “Because I live, you shall live also (John 14:19)

This is GOOD NEWS for us today because one day when it is our time if Jesus doesn’t come back before we die, our bodies will end up in a graveyard. By his resurrection from the dead, Jesus was giving a dramatic demonstration of the reality of immortality. ETERNAL LIFE IS REAL.

Many people think that the GOSPEL is good advice. Let us never forget, as someone has said: Truly, the gospel is not good advice, but GOOD NEWS. It does not tell us what we ought to do for God, It tells us WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR US. It does not offer us lessons from the life of Christ, IT OFFERS US LIFE BY THE DEATH OF CHRIST.

The second declaration found in Christ’s resurrection is:

II. THE DECLARATION OF A LIVING SAVIOR

1.) CHRISTIANITY MUST BE DEFINED IN TERMS OF A RELATIONSHIP TO A LIVING LORD.

In John’s vision in Revelation 1:18, Jesus says; ..”I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades. (Hell).

THIS IS GOOD NEWS FROM A CEMETERY!!

Tomas Arnold a British Educator and historian of the early 19th century, called the resurrection “the best attested fact in history.” There are many modern day supporters of the historical fact of the resurrection, like Josh McDowell “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” and Lee Strobel’s series on “The Case for Faith.”

Luke who wrote one of the Gospel’s and the book of Acts, was both an inspired and painstaking historian wrote; “he presented himself alive after his passion (his suffering) by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days. He showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. (Acts 1:3).

This truth should revitalize our worship, for we come together, not in memory of a dead Christ but in fellowship with a living Lord who said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the mist of them. “ Matt. 18:20

2.) That he is alive makes prayer more meaningful, for when we pray in his name, we requisition the needed resources from the bank of heaven for the carrying on of his Kingdom’s work.

3.) Sacrificial service is more meaningful and worthwhile because the resurrection proves that God will bring every good work to fruition ( (I Cor. 15:58)

4.) By his living presence, he gives us the abundant life –a full life.

He would unify our efforts and command our very best because he is alive and with us, we should be encouraged to abstain from that which is evil. We should be more bold in attempting that which is difficult to do. We can receive comfort from him in times of sorrow, through his Holy Spirit.

Our living Savior offers the gift of eternal life now. Jesus said: “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it in all of its fullness (abundant life). (John 10:10)

He is able to save completely all who come to him by faith and he offers to us eternal life, if we just receive him as our Lord and Savior.

But let’s not limit ourselves to just knowing him as our Savior, but life. experience the fullness of His Spirit. Make him Lord of your

“WHEN THE CHEERING STOPPED”

Nobleton Community Church
Palm Sunday March 24, 2024
Texts: John 12:12-19; Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; Luke 19:29-44
Pastor Paul V Lehmann

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Some years ago, a book was written by Gene Smith, a noted American historian. The title was “When The Cheering Stopped.” It was the story of President Woodrow Wilson and the events leading up to and following WWI. When that war was over Wilson was an international hero. There was a great spirit of optimism abroad, and people actually believed that the last war had been fought and the world had been made safe for democracy. On his first visit to Paris after the war Wilson was greeted by cheering mobs. He was actually more popular than their own heroes. The same thing was true in England and Italy. In a Vienna hospital; a Red Cross worker had to tell the children that there would be no Christmas presents because of the war and the hard times. The children didn’t believe her. They said that President Wilson was coming and they knew that everything would be all right. The cheering lasted about a year. Then it gradually began to stop. It turned out that the political leaders in Europe were more concerned with their own agendas than they were a lasting peace. At home, Woodrow Wilson ran into opposition in the United States Senate, and his League of Nations was not ratified. Under the strain of it all the President’s health began to break. In the next election, his party was defeated. So it was that Woodrow Wilson, a man who barely a year or two earlier had been heralded as the new world Messiah, came to the end of his days a broken and defeated man.The cheering had stopped. This is a sad story in history, but not altogether unfamiliar. The ultimate reward for someone who tries to translate ideals into reality is apt to be frustration and defeat. There are some exceptions, of course, but not too many. It happened that way to Jesus. When Jesus emerged on the public scene and people saw his miracles, crowds followed him. It was hard for him to get away to be alone because people still went after him. He tried to avoid publicity during the early part of his ministry. But now in our scripture passage this morning, we see that it is time for him to allow the people the chance to recognize him as their King and Savior. He fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah in chapter 9: verses 9 and the last part of 10; ”See, your king comes to you righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey…He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.” Why did he ride into Jerusalem on a young donkey? Why was Jesus accepting the homage reserved for a king? Why the palms, and acclaim? It was for only one reason. As Jesus begins the last week of His life He is giving the nation an opportunity to do what He knows only too well they would not do—accept Him as King. In spite of His rejection by the Jewish leaders, He now presents Himself to His people as the Messiah in exact and impressive fulfillment of prophecy. He had every right to kingship, seeing He was born a King, because He was a King before He was born. Eternal, immortal, invisible. (I Timothy 1:17) Jesus chose a time when all Israel would be gathered in Jerusalem. On this day we celebrate what we call “The Triumphant Entry.” However, was it really triumphant? He entered the city on a lowly donkey. Kings rode horses. Prophets or judges rode donkeys. Also his “attendants” didn’t ride in splendor either as would be expected for a King. It was a disorganized mob of humble folk that surrounded Him. Nevertheless, the people shouted and cried out Hosanna! Meaning Save us now!—Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord! They didn’t understand the nature of the messianic work that Jesus would perform, but they clearly understood Him to be a very special person upon whom the mantle of Messiah must have fallen. Their understanding was not complete because they were explaining to others who might not have known Jesus that He was a prophet from Nazareth in Galilee. (Matt. 21: 11)The people had the wrong idea about Jesus. They were sure he would be a national leader who would restore their nation to its former glory, and thus, they were deaf to the words of their prophets and blind to Jesus’ real mission. When it became apparent that Jesus was not going to fulfill their hopes, many people turned against him. The cheering did not last for long. There came a point when the tide began to turn against him. Earlier the Pharisees had been afraid to speak out for fear of the masses, but they began to perceive that the fickle public was turning on him. When they discovered that they could not discredit his moral character, they began to take more desperate measures. They planned to have him killed. In John 12, verses 9-11 just before our text for this morning, we see that the chief priests also made plans to kill Lazarus as well, because the people were trying to see him since Jesus had raised him from the dead. On account of this miracle many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. Now if this is true, why did the masses so radically turn against Jesus. The shouts of Hosanna turned to cries of “Crucify him.” I have believed for quite some time that it wasn’t necessarily the same people. Maybe it was, but I believe that as usual there were Galileans who supported him, and some didn’t, but mainly it was these supporters that came into Jerusalem with Him, and it was largely a Judean crowd, along with the chief priests and Pharisees that led them with the shouts to crucify him. Just like today, in most uprisings, there are leaders who stir up the crowd to yell whatever they want them to. (ATIFA—BLACK LIVES MATTER—AND THE ANTI-SAMETIC STUDENTS ON CAMPUSES ACROSS AMERICA) At any rate whoever was yelling to have him killed, the ones who were supporting him as their Messiah remained silent. Why this turn- around? What were the deeper root causes and underlying issues? In about five days it all fell apart. It was all in God’s plan of course, but why did the cheering stop? Jesus began to talk more and more about commitment. They probably began to see that he was not going to take control of the situation, and they remember things: like taking up their cross and following him. Maybe they thought if they supported him, they too would be killed. They weren’t ready to give up their lives for this “prophet” who didn’t seem like anyone strong enough to save them. In verse 25 he told them that the man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. He also talked about serving and the fact that his Father will honor the one who serves Him.He also dared to suggest that all people are worth loving. They recalled that He had said that they were to love their enemies, not conquer them. No wonder he wasn’t going to overthrow the Roman Government. He seemed to be more interested in the proper way to worship, than bringing justice into their lives. In verse 28 a voice from heaven was heard declaring that the name of Jesus would be glorified. The people weren’t sure if it had thundered or an angel had spoken. They never imagined that it was God. Jesus said; “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world (Satan) will be driven out. But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, (on the cross) I will draw all men to myself. He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. Jesus also told them that they were only going to have the “light” (Him) a little bit longer. Put your trust in the light while you have it so that you may become sons of light” The disciples saw how Jesus had led them into a deeper and better understanding of his truth. Stop now and think about the events in your life leading up to where you are now. How has God led you to this point? As you have grown older, you have undoubtedly looked back and have seen God’s involvement more clearly than you did at one time. Truly as Paul said in Romans 8:28, that “ in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Verse 31 says;…”if God is for us, who can be against us?” God –“who did not spare His own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also along with him, graciously give us all things? …Christ Jesus who died…who was raised to life —is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword.? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” —No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. In verse 37 Paul goes on to say; For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. What a declaration! This was all recognized after the resurrection. After Pentecost. After the infilling of the Holy Spirit. After Paul was knocked down on the road to Damascus, on his way to persecute Christians. The Lord got a hold of him, empowered him with his Holy Spirit, and became the primary author of the New Testament and the key apostle to plant churches. The people flocked to Jesus because they had heard about his great miracle in raising Lazarus from the dead. Their adoration was short-lived and their commitment shallow and they did nothing to stop his crucifixion. (Actually, there wasn’t anything they could do—it was foreordained that Jesus had to die). We must remember though that devotion based only on curiosity or popularity fades quickly. Time and time again we see that happening today. People flock to services when they think that miracles are taking place there. Sometimes I believe these manifestations are valid, but other times they are false. We must be open to miracles, but also be committed to following Jesus even when we don’t see them happen. There is coming a day when the shouting won’t stop. There is coming a day when we will cry; “Behold He Comes, riding on the clouds—at the trumpet sound—so lift your voice it’s the year of Jubilee, out of Zion’s hill salvation comes” Every eye shall see him, and every knee will bow down and say He is Lord!”

WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO SATISFY YOU?

Nobleton Community Church
March 17, 2024
Matthew 15:29-39 continuing with 16:1-12
Pastor Paul V Lehmann

Listen to live audio here

We see in these verses:

THE GRACIOUSNESS OF JESUS WHO IS THE BREAD OF LIFE

Jesus leaves the area of Tyre and Sidon where he healed the Canaanite woman’s daughter, and goes south again towards Galilee, Then he went up on a mountainside and sat down. Great crowds to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others. And laid them at his feet, AND HEALED THEM .

The people were amazed when they saw this. We see Jesus relieving every kind of human need. He has compassion for the 4,000 men plus the women and children, (once again at least 12 or 15,000 people). Some have tried to say that the feeding of the 5,000 in chapter 14, and this incident of 4,000 are the same but there are distinct reasons why that is totally unlikely. In the 14th chapter of Matthew they are told to sit on the grass, so it was in the spring time when their was grass in Palestine. In this passage they sit on the “ground” which makes it almost 6 months later near the end of the summer, when the grass is brown or gone. It was curing this time that Jesus and the disciples walk up north to Tyre and on to Sidon. With the question of the season in mind—-it could have been almost 6 months for them to make the trip to Sidon. It could have been done in two weeks with continued walking. But Jesus needed the time to teach his disciples—so he probably took his time.

Also the first feeding was mostly Jews present, but here it is in the Decapolis where there are mostly Gentiles. It is that fact that explains the curious phrase in verse 31, “They ‘praised the God of Israel.” To the Gentile crowds this was a demonstration of the power of the God of Israel. There is another thing that supports the fact that these are two different incidents, in two different locations. In the feeding of the 5000 the baskets which were used to take up the fragments are called by a different name (kophinoi); in the feeding of the 4,000 they are called (sphurides). The kophinos was a narrow-necked, flask shaped basket which Jews often carried with them, for a Jew often carried his own food, because he might be compelled to eat food which had been touched by Gentile hands and was therefore unclean. The he kind of basket that a Gentile would was much more like a hamper; it could be big enough to carry a man, and it was a kind of basket that a Gentile would use. The disciples once again ask an unbelievable question; (verse 37) “In this remote place, where can we get enough bread to feed all of these people?

Jesus is very patient with them. —“How many do you have” –7 loaves and a few small fish. The wonder of this account is that in these healings and in this feeding of the hungry, we see the mercy and the compassion of Jesus going out to the Gentiles. Here is a kind of symbol and foretaste that

: The bread of God was not to be confined to the Jews; that the Gentiles —that’s us too—were also to have their share of him who is the living bread. The gospel, the good news about Jesus as “the bread of life” —“the abundant life or life in all its fullness. – as well as -the way, and the truth,

It not only was not to be confined to the Jews—–it is not to be confined to the Church.— This what we so often do—–keep it to ourselves.

The disciples really didn’t get the significance of all of this, until after Pentecost, when Peter was called by God to go to the home of Cornelius who wasn’t a Jew, but he was what was called—–a” God Fearer” . A Gentile who was open to the God of the Jews. Peter’s “Jewish life’ was turned upside down at this man’s house. He was told he could eat food that he had never eaten before, and he saw this Gentile give his life to Jesus Christ.

So in our text:

  1. We see Jesus healing physical disability. The lame, the maimed, the blind and the mute. Jesus cares about our bodily pain, and those who bring health and healing to people today, are still doing the work of Jesus Christ. Whether it is through modern science or through prayer for divine healing.
  2. We see him feeding the hungry. We see him giving all he has to relieve physical hunger and physical need. Jesus is infinitely concerned for peoples bodies, just as he is for their souls. Here we see the power and the compassion of God going out to meet the many needs of the human situation.

Alfred Edersheim (a Jewish historian who believed in Jesus points out in his series of books on “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah” —that in three successive stages of Jesus’ ministry, he ended each stage by setting a meal before his people.

First, there was the feeding of the 5,000, that came at the end of his ministry in Galilee, for Jesus was never to teach and preach and heal in Galilee again.

Second, there was this feeding of the 4,000. This came at the end of his brief ministry to the Gentiles, beyond the bounds of Palestine—first in the districts of Tyre and Sidon and then in the Decapolis.

Third and last, there was the Last Supper in Jerusalem, when Jesus came to the final stage of the days of his flesh.

Jesus always left people with strength for the way; always he gathered people to him to feed them with the living bread. Always Jesus gave them himself before he moved on.

And still today he comes to us offering us also the bread which will satisfy the immortal hunger of the human soul, and in the strength of which we shall be able to go all the days of our life.

THE PROBLEM IS THAT WE NEVER ARE SATISFIED BECAUSE WE DON’T TURN TO JESUS FOR OUR SATISFACTION.

Now in Matthew 16:1-12 —We see the Pharisees and Sadducees looking for a sign. People today are always looking for miraculous signs. Something different than Jesus Christ. They can’t stand the thought that He is the only way. Everyone from different ideologies, and religions often find a common ground in that they are all against Jesus Christ the Son of God. The Pharisees and Sadducees get together to come against Jesus. Hostility, makes strange bedfellows. The Pharisees live life according to the details of the oral and scribal law, The Sadducees rejected the oral and the scribal law completely, and accepted only the written words of the Old Testament as their law of life. The Pharisees believed in angels and in the resurrection of the body and the Sadducees did not, (an opposition which Paul made use of when he was on trial before the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:6-10),

And in this case most important of all—the Pharisees were not a political party and were prepared to live under any government which would allow them to observe their own religious principles; the Sadducees were the small, wealthy aristocracy, who were the collaborationist party and were quite prepared to serve and co-operate with the Roman government, in order to retain their wealth and their privileges. Further,

The Pharisees looked for and longed for the Messiah;

the Sadducees did not.

It would have been almost impossible to find two more different sects and parties; and yet they came together in their overwhelming desire to eliminate Jesus.

ALL ERROR HAS THIS IN COMMON—THAT IT IS HOSTILE TO CHRIST

Maybe not the good kind Jesus the prophet –teacher that walked the earth, but Jesus the Messiah the Son of God.

The demand of the Pharisees and the Sadducees was for a sign. The Jews had a way of wanting a prophet or a leader to authenticate his message by some abnormal and extraordinary sign. (back in Matthew 12:38-40)

The problem was they were blind to the greatest sign —Jesus himself. He used the old weather saying about the red sky. Have you ever heard? “Red sky at night sailors delight—-Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.”

They knew very well the sign of a red sky in the evening presupposed fine weather the next day, but in the morning meant that a storm was on the way. BUT THEY WERE BLIND TO THE SIGNS OF THE TIMES.

Jesus told them that the only sign they would receive was the sign of Jonah.

What Jesus is saying is that God’s sign is Jesus himself and his message. It’s like he is saying to them “In me you are confronted with God and with the truth of God” What more could you possible need?

But they were like so many today. They were looking for something else to satisfy them. Jesus, wasn’t enough. Who he was, what he did, and what he tuahg didn’t satisfy them, because their heart’s weren’t right. We too often forget that today. When we evangelize. If the Holy Spirit hasn’t already begun to prepare someone’s heart, all of our efforts to tell them about Jesus is in vain.

The Pharisees and Sadducees, had all other writings of the prophets to know the truth of God. They of all people should have had tremendous faith, and had their hearts open to Jesus, but they didn’t

A pagan Phoenician women, that hardly knew anything about Jesus had great faith in him. She was desperate for her daughter who was demonized. The Gentiles who flocked to Jesus in the Decapolis had great faith. They discovered that Jesus could satisfy them, He would meet their physical and spiritual need.

What is it that you count on today to satisfy you?

Is Jesus everything to you? The one who completely satisfies and is your Lord and Savior, the one you always rely on, —-or just someone you know some facts about

LIVING STONES

Nobleton Community Church
March 10,2024
Pastor Karen Erickson

Listen to live audio here

No written sermon this week

S-submit to the Lord
T-trust in the Lord with all your Heart
O-overcome
N-no weapon formed against me shall prosper
E-enter His gates with thanksgiving and His
courts with praise; give thanks to him and
praise His name

HOW DO WE ACCESS GOD’S POWER?

Nobleton Community Church
March 3, 2024
Text: James 5:13-20
Pastor Paul v Lehmann

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James reminds us to pray for everything, just like Paul tells us to pray in all circumstances. I heard about a pastor who told his congregation that God doesn’t want our “frivolous” prayers. Like praying for a parking place, or helping you to find lost or misplaced keys, or anything that you have lost. You know how I feel about that. I believe that the Bible teaches us to pray about everything. It doesn’t bother one bit to have you call out to him for help even in the most mundane situations. He doesn’t want us to cry out to him in a crisis but rather to be in the habit of praying all the time. Our problem is the latter. We only think he will maybe help us when things are really bad. Ruth Graham’s advice. “Pray when you feel like it, for it is a sin to neglect such an opportunity. Pray when you don’t feel like it, for it is dangerous to remain in such a condition.”
MAKE PRAYER YOUR FIRST RESPONSE TO EVERYTHING.
Too often we have a tendency to use prayer only in panic situations. Like the man who was working on his roof and lost his balance and began to slide down. He grabbed at an air vent sticking up, but he missed it, and continued to slide. He grabbed at a shingle, but it broke off in his hand and he continued to slide. When he was almost to the edge of the roof, he cried out in desperation: “Lord help me!” Suddenly, he felt something grab the cuff of his pants. As he dangled over the edge, 30 feet above ground. He looked to see what had happened and he said; “ Never mind, Lord. My pants got caught on a nail. I’m Ok, I don’t need your help after all.”
That’s the problem with a crisis-driven prayer life. When the crisis goes away, so does the motivation to pray.
James says that prayer should be a part of every aspect of life—when we’re happy, sad, troubled, and sick, we need to take our concerns and our joys to God. Peter and Paul made this same suggestion.
In Philippians 4:6 “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”
Ephesians 6:18 “Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.”
You can’t trivialize prayer: As far as God is concerned, there are no unimportant parts of your life.
Now what we saw in Ephesians —is we are to pray IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT—THAT IS THE KEY.
In the beginning of our text; verses 13-14, James tells us that if we are in trouble. We should pray. If we are happy, we should praise the Lord, and singing praises is a form of prayer. If we are sick, (bedfast. Can’t get out to church or prayer meeting or anywhere there might be someone to pray for us—–we are to call for the elders (the leaders of the church). He doesn’t say if you have enough faith call for someone to come to your side to pray, he says that others should come, and the PRAYER OF FAITH WILL SAVE THE SICK PERSON. This isn’t a cold or flu or something of that nature but a sickness or infirmity which is keeping them down. This prayer offered in faith will raise them up. An added benefit is that if they have sinned they will be forgiven. (that’s why it is added in verse 16; “pray for each other so that you may be healed.”
Now hear is an interesting statement: “ The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” Verse 17 is the example given. It is about Elijah—James says; “he was a human being, just like us.”
Look at I Kings 17: 1. Elijah is confronting King Ahab telling him that; “as the Lord God of Israel lives, (before I stand RSV) whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain (for these years RSV) the next few years (NIV) except by my word”. Then in chapter 18 we read:…The word of the Lord came to Elijah “In the third year saying; “Go show yourself to Ahab and I will send rain.”
Back to James “ He prayed earnestly (fervently (RSV) that it wouldn’t rain, and it didn’t rain for 3 years. He prayed again that it would rain and the heavens gave rain and the earth produced its crops.
It is important to realize why James indicates that Elijah was a man “just like us”—–he was human. James says he prayed but in the account in I Kings nothing is mentioned about prayer. I believe the answer is the fact that the Holy Spirit came upon the prophets and they stood before God inquiring God’s will for all kinds of things. You recall that Elijah later prayed in chapter 18, for God to reveal his power against Bael.
WHAT WAS THE SECRET ACCESS OF SEEING GOD’S POWER?
First of all we must have faith. Faith and trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior.
We must also, as I have told you many times, that Jesus who dwells within us when we receive him and ask him to come into our lives by his Holy Spirit must then have control of what we do.
There has to be contact with God. On the older cars there was a carburetor and sometimes the “points” had to be replaced. In French they are called “contacts.” Most cars today have a fuel injection system, but there still has to be contact with the fuel to propel the motor. It’s like the electricity wiring in your house. You have to turn the switch on in order to make contact so that the lights will come on. Our “contact” must be with God —- To access his power—we must PRAY, and THE HOLY SPIRIT in us is released and gives us access to this power to accomplish God’s will. PRAYER is what releases his power.
God wants us to communicate with him about what is on our heart, He also wants to make his will and his heart known to us. If we let him, and if we are in constant communication with him he will do this. When we pray we must know what his word says if we are to know his will. We know when we pray for unsaved people to be saved, that that is his will. The Bible tells us that he is not willing for any to perish. This doesn’t mean that everyone is automatically saved, but it is God’s desire that they be saved. They still must individually put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, in order to be reconciled to God That is why it was necessary for him to die on a Cross, so that he—the perfect sacrifice for our sins, could make it possible for us to be forgiven. We can experience new life in Christ because of his resurrection from the dead. Now we can have victory over sin, death (the grave).
So, just as much as we know that he wants all to be saved, he also wants to answer our prayers about sickness and healing when we ask in faith believing. We can know this by the witness of his Spirit within us. In verse 15 of chapter 5 of James when we pray for people: —“prayer offered in faith will heal the sick and the Lord will make them well.”
That’s a bold statement, and one that begs the question; then why don’t people get healed every time? To this question there are three BAD answers;

  1. It must not be God’s will
  2. The person doesn’t have enough faith to be healed.
  3. God no longer heals people today.
    The Bible disputes each of these arguments, but that doesn’t prevent people from using them in a pinch. We have a need to compartmentalize all aspects of life. We tend especially to do that in the area of healing. We like formulas, guarantees, and instant results. We want to be able to explain the mysteries of God in a few pithy phrases. Also, when it comes to prayer, many of us would love to be able to tell God what to do at any given moment—and be assured that he will fulfill our bidding.
    Verse 16 says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. We are only righteous because of Jesus.
    Tony Evens ( and African American pastor in Dallas, TX ) tells about an evangelistic crusade he held at Brice Stadium on the campus of South Carolina University some years ago. There were about 15-20,000 people there, but rain was predicted. The black storm clouds began to form and there was thunder. There were other pastors there and they all prayed that God would keep the rain back, and Tony says he prayed a typical “safe” prayer. That God would hold off the rain, and that they would be able to have at least some of the service. Then a little 5’ 1” lady came to the platform and asked if she could pray. They said sure we need all the prayer we can get. She began confronting God with the facts. Explaining how they knew it was his will to hold this meeting. Reminding God of all the hours and hard work that has gone into the preparations. Also that the gospel needed to be preached to all these people who were in attendance. You have command over the weather when you choose. So therefore Lord, I “command” you to not allow this rain to interrupt this meeting. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
    The clouds got darker the thunder got louder, andt the rain came up to one end of Brice Stadium,—-split literally, and half went to want side and the other half to the other outside of where the people were, It joined again at the other end of the Stadium, but not one drop fell where the people were, and many accepted Christ that night.
    James 4:2 tells us; “You do not have because you do not ask God.”
    Our relationship with God is the same as a father’s relationship with his child. When we pray, God wants to give us whatever it is we ask for. Some of the things we ask for aren’t good for us, but some are, that’s why we must know the Word and what God’s will is.
    Now many people think because of God’s Sovereignty, we can’t “command” him to do anything. This may be true in some cases, but when we know God’s will we can pray his word, and pray the things we know to be fact.

DO YOU NEED TO CHANGE?

Nobleton Community Church
February 25, 2024
Matthew 18:1-4
Pastor Paul V Lehmann

Listen to the audio here

In the gospel of Matthew there are a few recurring themes: True spirituality; living by faith; and achieving greatness. All of these themes overlap to some extent. Matthew 18 begins with the disciples re-opening these issues again by asking Jesus a question:

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

In other words, “What does it mean to be a five-star Christian?” Or another way you might say it is: “What does it mean to be truly spiritual in God’s eyes…to be truly holy?”

In the next three chapters of Matthew, Jesus teaches about the nature of holiness. What does it mean to be holy in God’s eyes? How does one become “the greatest in the kingdom?” This is the topic we’ll be addressing, and I’m going to give away the ending right now — I’ll let you know how this will end. Becoming a five-star Christian — becoming the greatest in God’s kingdom — has almost everything to do with how you treat others.

The Bible says that when Jesus was asked this question, he called a young child forward to stand with them and he said…

I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

These verses, three words jump out at us: “Unless you change.” Jesus spoke these words to his disciples — men who had been following him for almost three years; men who had already performed miracles in his name; men who would ultimately turn the world upside down with the message of the gospel.

These were great men, and Jesus said to them, “Unless you change…” These words teach us a primary principle in becoming holy; this may seem rather obvious, but it’s a principle that must be noted.

IN ORDER TO BECOME HOLY, YOU MUST CHANGE.

The Bible teaches that we are born in sin, that we are born sinners, that we are, in our natural state, separated from God. He is good, we are not. We may make the occasional stab at goodness, but without experiencing a life-transformation, we will never become truly holy.

Just like the disciples, when we make the decision to follow Jesus, that’s where the process of change begins, it’s not where it ends. When you make the decision to follow Jesus, he comes into your life, he wipes away the past, he cleanses you of your sins, and he gives you a new life. At that point, you begin a journey into holiness.

I want to make something clear: for each and every one of us, it is a long journey. In fact, it is a lifelong journey. As long as we live, we must be 3 engaged in the process of change. As long as we have breath, there will be things that we need to eliminate from our life and things we need to add to our life in order to become more like him. The question, then, that we must ask ourselves is not “do I need to change anything about myself?” but rather, “what do I need to change about myself in order to live a life more pleasing to God?” And I can guarantee that he has an answer for each one of us. In today’s text, he spells out the first change we must make…

“Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Become like little children. That’s it. Do you want to be holy? Do you want to be a top-tier Christian — the greatest in God’s kingdom? Then you have to change; you have to become like a little child. What does that mean — to become like a child?

Today we’ll look at three characteristics of child-like faith. I want to quickly point out that he said that we’re to be child-like, not child-ish. It’s not that we don’t grow in the knowledge of his Word, it’s not the we become pouty and petulant and kick and scream when we don’t get our way. He’s not telling us to imitate the worst behavior of some children, he’s telling us to develop the attitude of a child .The first attitude is….

HUMILITY
Verse 4 Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 4 Have you ever noticed how our attempts at humility are often laden with pretentiousness? Oftentimes our efforts are focused on doing things that make us appear humble, rather than striving for true humility.

There’s a joke about a pastor who one day was overcome with a sense of humility and entered into the sanctuary and fell on the altar saying, “Oh, Lord, I’m nothing. I’m nothing.”

The associate pastor heard the commotion and followed suit, kneeling beside the pastor, saying, “Oh Lord, I’m nothing, I’m nothing.”

Then the youth director showed up, heard the other pastors praying and he joined in, “Oh Lord, I’m nothing, I’m nothing.”

The associate then tapped the pastor on the shoulder, pointed at the youth leader, rolled his eyes and said, “Get a load of who thinks he’s nothing.” Too often our efforts at humility are merely surface level efforts; we want to look humble more than we want to be humble. We think that humility is defined by the car we drive or the clothes we wear or our physical posture. For example, the Rule of St. Benedict, written hundreds of years ago, says…

“A monk should be not easily moved or quick to laughter…when a monk speaks he should do so gently and without laughter, humbly, gravely and with few and reasonable words…a monk should always show his humility to all who see him…in the monastery, in the garden, when traveling, in the field, or wherever he may be, whether sitting, walking or standing, he should always keep his head bent down, his gaze fixed to the ground.” [Rule of St. Benedict]

The Rule of St. Benedict teaches many other things about humility that are quite valuable, but this is often the only part we pick up on — that humility is about staring at your shoestrings. And, of course, it’s much more than that.

Jesus said, “Whoever humbles himself like this child…” How does a child humble himself?

For starters, a child is not pretentious. Children are not likely to put on airs; they’re most often straightforward and honest about who they are, and they accept others the same way.

I mean, have you ever met a class-conscious child? Of course not. Put a kid with rich parents on a playground, and he’ll make friends with the poor kids. A child will also make friends with children of other races; they accept everyone as they are — until they’re taught differently. Children aren’t pretentious. They don’t see themselves as being more than they really are; they don’t see others as being less than they really are.

Charles Swindoll gave a good example of this. He told about some kids who built a playhouse and posted these rules on the door:

  1. No one acts big.
  2. No one acts small.
  3. Everyone acts medium. Do you want to develop the humility of a child? Act medium towards everyone. Treat everyone as your equal. It’s been said that humility doesn’t mean that you think less of yourself, it means that you think of yourself less. Don’t be the most important person 6 in your world; develop the humility of a child — treat others as your equal. Act medium.

Jesus said that to enter the kingdom of heaven, we must become like a child. One way we become like a child is through humility. Another way is through…

TEACHABILITY

it’s not until they become teen-agers that people begin to think they know everything. Children remain quite teachable. And have you ever noticed how much little children love to learn? When you ask a child, “Do you want to practice your ABC’s?” they’ll never say, “No, thanks, not today. I’ve got too much on my mind and I just can’t deal with it right now.” Instead, they say, “YEAH!” and they sing that song over and over and over again.

And when you offer to read a book to a little child, they never say, “Do I have to hear that story again? We’ve been through that book a thousand times. Go get the encyclopedia and read that to me.” Instead, little children absorb those books like every time is their first time. They love the process of learning: “That’s a cat, that’s a dog; that’s yellow, that’s blue…” and on and on.

And have you ever tried to complete a household project with a child around? They’re between you and what your work, asking, “What are you doing? Why did you do that? What is this for? Can you show me how to do it?”

Kids aren’t just teachable, they’re enthusiastically teachable. Have you ever met a first grader who didn’t love school?

This is the same attitude we must bring to the Christian life. We must be enthusiastically teachable.

The prerequisite of this is that we must first acknowledge that we don’t know everything. For some, this is very difficult.

In some churches, there are some people who believe that they are more spiritual than anyone else in the church, including the pastor. For them the teaching is never deep enough, the worship is never intense enough, and they just don’t get much out of church. These people are rarely involved in serving others and tend to church hop.

In every church I’ve been in there is another group of people who have a dynamic walk with Christ, who leave each Sunday service exhilarated, and who are accomplishing things for God between Sundays

There is never any overlap between group A and group B, because they represent two completely different mindsets — one group is teachable, one isn’t.

Now folks, I may not be the greatest preacher in the world —— but I do preach the Word of God to the best of my ability, and the fact is: if you’re teachable, then God will speak to you through the sermon. I mean, if God can speak through a donkey in the Old Testament, the parallel is obvious: he can speak through me.

If you don’t get anything out of a sermon, the problem most likely is not the sermon; the problem most likely is your attitude. Are you teachable?

Listen to what Solomon said:

Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers. (Proverbs 16:20)

Do you want to become a top-tier Christian? Become like a little child: recognize that you don’t know everything there is to know, and become enthusiastically teachable. There’s a third principle here to look at. Humility, Teachability, and…

DEPENDENCE

“Unless you change and become like little children…”

You know what I’ve noticed about children? They’re utterly dependent and they know it. You’ll never hear a five year old say, “I’m a self-made child…I picked myself up from my bootstraps and made myself what I am.” They don’t say that; they’re utterly dependent. They say, “I’m hungry. I need help. Will you do this for me? Will you get this for me?” etc.

Just as children are completely dependent on their parents, we need to be completely dependent on God.

Listen to what Paul said in the book of 2 Corinthians. He talks about the hardships he has faced, and then he says…

Indeed in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead…On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us…(2 Corinthians 1:9-10) 9

The Apostle Paul, had to learn dependence in order to become a great Christian. We have to learn dependence, too. God isn’t looking for a bunch of self-made disciples who can get through life without his help. He’s looking for followers who will depend on him for everything.

Alex Haley, author of Roots, had a picture in his office of a turtle sitting on a fence post. He said the picture was there to remind him of an important lesson: if you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he had some help getting there. Haley said, “Every time I’m tempted to think, ‘Aren’t I marvelous? Look at all I’ve accomplished!’ I look at that picture and remember how this turtle me — got up on that post.”

That’s how much we need to depend on God. Becoming great in God’s kingdom — becoming a holy person — is about as possible as a turtle climbing a fence. We can’t do it on our own; we have to depend on him.

Are you struggling with sin right now? Are you fighting it in your own power? Are you trying to accomplish goodness on your own? It’ll never work.

You have to get to the place where you depend on God. Are you struggling with your emotions right now — feeling things you don’t want to feel, wanting things you shouldn’t want? You’ll never win this battle on your own. You need God’s help.

Just like a child can’t go out and earn the money to pay the mortgage, you cannot manufacture holiness on your own. And just like a child depends on his parents for food and shelter, we must learn to depend on God for strength for daily living.

We must pray, “God, I cannot change the way I feel, and sometimes it seems I cannot control my actions, my temper, or my sinful desires. All I can do is depend on you to change me through your mercy and power.”

Do you want to be a good Christian…a top-tier Christian…the greatest in God’s kingdom? In order to become holy you must change, but you can’t do it on your own.

Stop working at it as if you were working for a job promotion, and do it the way Jesus said: become like a child.

Be humble. Put everyone else on the same level as you; act medium.

Be teachable. Acknowledge that you don’t know all there is to know, and enthusiastically embrace instruction.

And be dependent. It may go against the grain of American rugged individualism, but it’s the only way to grow.

Stop depending on yourself and start depending on God, just as a child depends on his parents for all that he needs. When you become like a child, you will become mighty in the eyes of God.

Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10)

Yard and Bake Sale

Save the Date and bring your money!!! Our semi-annual Sale is coming up
March 8th & 9th! 8am to 1pm.